Understanding the Auto Accident Settlement Timeline in California

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Working with an experienced auto accident attorney can help you successfully navigate the settlement process.

Even though you may take every precaution to drive safely, accidents happen. Whether you’re sideswiped by a negligent driver or you are momentarily distracted while changing lanes and you hit another car, there is a process to follow after an auto accident occurs. From reporting the accident to receiving compensation for the injuries you sustained, the amount of time it takes to resolve the legal process can vary. It’s helpful to get a general understanding of the settlement timeline so that you know what to expect should an accident happen.

Steps to Take Immediately Following an Auto Accident

As soon as an auto accident occurs, you should assess yourself and others at the scene for any injuries that may require immediate medical attention. If so, call for an ambulance right away. It’s also important to call the police if there are any injuries involved. While you wait for the authorities to arrive, you should exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver, but refrain from discussing the accident or admitting fault. You should also gather contact information from any witnesses. When the police arrive, they will create an accident report that will be useful when you decide to file an auto accident claim later on. Even if your injuries seem minor, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor to determine whether you’ve suffered any harder-to-detect injuries, such as a concussion.

Contact an Attorney to Discuss Your Options

Suffering an injury in an auto accident can result in expensive medical bills, lost wages, and other financial hardships. If you decide to pursue compensation, you should contact an experienced auto accident attorney who can help assess your situation and advise you on the best path forward. Under California law, you and the other party involved in the accident must attempt to settle the case before it proceeds to trial. Depending on the extent of your injuries, the amount of property damage involved, and other important factors, the settlement process may take some time to begin. Once it does, you and your attorney will meet with the other party and their attorney to negotiate a settlement. Sometimes, a settlement agreement is reached quickly, while other cases require several conferences to resolve. If no settlement can be reached, the case may proceed to trial.

Act Sooner Rather Than Later

As the settlement process may take longer than you may anticipate, it’s a good idea to begin the process as soon as possible. In California, you have two years from the date of the accident in which to file an auto accident claim. Once two years have passed, you forfeit your right to pursue compensation. If you are struggling with medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, or other financial challenges following an auto accident, reach out to a knowledgeable auto accident lawyer who can guide you through the settlement process and help you secure the compensation you are owed.


Need assistance with seeking compensation after an auto accident in the Temecula or Murrieta area? Call the dedicated and knowledgeable auto accident attorneys at Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation today at (951) 489-3320 to discuss your case.

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